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Business Process Management (BPM) refers to the process of ensuring that all the activities of a business unit are operating most efficiently and effectively (Phillips 2011). Efficiency is one of the methods that a business can use to gain a competitive advantage in the market (Montgomery & Porter 1991). In this light, it can be what enables a business to survive in its operating environment. This paper explores the role that communication plays in business in the context of BPM. Communication is a vital part of all the activities of an organization—the communication practices of an organization form an important part of its assets.
Communication is a process composed of several components. These components include the information source, transmitter, receiver, and Information destination (Corson, Heath & Bryant 2000). The information source refers to the person who develops the message to be sent through the communication system. The transmitter is the means of encoding this message to allow for its transfer to the receiver (Dixon 1999). The receiver in this model refers to the gadget or instrument that decodes the message sent by the transmitter (Dixon 1999). After the receiver decodes the message, the information reaches its destination.
Between the transmitter and the receiver, noise may enter the communication system (Corson, Heath & Bryant 2000). In this case, noise refers to the unwanted addition of signals to the original message, or the distortion of the original message. If there is no means of removing the noise from the communication system, then the final message may not be the same as the original message. This phenomenon is called distortion.
In an organization, the introduction of noise may take place in the normal transmission channels. For instance, a memo from the CEO that has information that should reach the whole organization through departmental heads may collect noise when the department heads interpret the message. They may introduce bias to the message or add elements that were not in the original memo. This limits the CEO’s capacity to communicate accurately to all members of the organization.
Purpose of Business Process Management
To have an effective discussion on the importance of effective communication in BPM, it is crucial to begin by examining the purpose of BPM. The purpose of BPM in an organization includes increasing operational efficiency, achieving strategic alignment, eliminating waste in business processes, and reduction of costs (Phillips 2011).
Organizational efficiency refers to the capacity of an organization to make the most use of its resources to deliver maximum value (Kazmi 2008). BPM makes it possible for process managers to determine the most effective ways of handling any task within the organization. Achieving organizational efficiency requires a wholesome approach. If one department optimizes its processes without involving the others, its activities may cause bottlenecks in the operations of the other departments.
Strategic alignment refers to the situation where all the activities of an organization contribute towards the achievement of its strategy (Jeyarathmm 2008). The strategy is a crucial component of business planning today. Therefore, organizations use BPM to ensure that all the tasks in the organization contribute towards the achievement of the strategic goals of the organization.
BPM can help an organization to eliminate waste in its activities (Faulkner & Segan-Horn 2004). This comes from finding and eliminating unwanted activities or expenses associated with the processes of the business. The ability to eliminate waste is an important component of LEAN management systems. It can also be a source of profitability for an organization (Phillips, 2011). In very competitive business climates, waste erodes competitive advantage. Therefore, BPM helps organizations operating in these climates to eliminate waste.
BPM is also useful for cost reduction. Whenever an organization takes BPM seriously, it quickly discovers new ways of achieving the same results at a lower cost. For instance, the procurement department can help an organization to buy supplies in bulk rather than ordering single units. If the BPM processes can determine the exact needs of each department, the organization can save on costs by buying supplies in bulk.
Effective communication consists of the following elements. First, effective communication possesses clarity. This means that the message is very clear the intended receiver. Secondly, effective communication is timely (Corson, Heath & Bryant, 2000). Thirdly, effective communication is actionable (Dixon, 1999). At times, communication may be prepared for informational purposes. However, even in this situation, it needs to be actionable to the receiver.
Effective communication also has a clear audience and is developed to meet the needs of this audience (Corson, Heath & Bryant 2000). When an engineer is communicating with the members of the technical department, the engineer can use technical terms and engineering jargon. However, when the engineer is talking to the management, the terms chosen must take into account the special needs of this group.
Uses of Communication in Business Process Management
Communication plays three important roles in BPM. These roles include securing stakeholder commitment at the beginning of each BPM cycle and retaining this commitment throughout the cycle (Froot 2008). Secondly, communication aligns all the organizational efforts towards achieving the BPM goals (Kazmi 2008). Thirdly, communication provides a means of communicating value (Phillips, 2011).
The BPM cycle consists of several steps. At the beginning of each BPM cycle, it is important to determine the goals of the cycle and to communicate these goals to all the stakeholders. If sections of the stakeholders do not understand the objectives of a BPM cycle, they can frustrate the process.
In the process of executing BPM activities, there is a need to monitors progress and to provide course correction. This is only possible if there is back and forth communication between the BPM leadership team and the rest of the stakeholders. Creating communication channels to facilitate communication is one of the vital aspects of BPM planning.
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Project managers use the value earned method to calculate how well the project is moving. This measure helps them to compare the task execution rate with the actual value the project derived from the execution of those tasks. In the same way, BPM leaders need to identify the value a BPM process delivers to the organization. The communication of the value created is an important part of motivating the BPM team and all the stakeholders involved. It also provides a strong basis for decision making when the organization’s management reviews the work done.
Importance of Effective Communication
The importance of effective communication in BPM comes from the reasons presented above. First, securing stakeholder commitment is not an easy process. Stakeholder to a BPM process includes the staff of the organization, its customers, its shareholders, and industry regulators. Each of these stakeholders plays a key role in the success of a BPM process. For instance, customers use the systems in the organization to place their orders. If the organization decides to use BPM to improve the ordering process, there is a need to ensure that all the customers understand the new processes. It is important to educate them on the benefits of the new process and to determine whether they are comfortable using the new infrastructure. This example shows that ignoring stakeholders or failing to communicate with them effectively can lead to a failure on the BPM process.
Secondly, the need for effective communication arises in the management of the process. Once the BPM leadership team identifies areas that require course correction, effective communication is what will ensure that the people who need to correct their course understand the requirements. In the same way, it is only through effective communication that the BPM leadership team will know which areas of the BPM cycle need a course correction. This shows that the communication platform needs to have two-way communication systems.
The third reason why it is vital to use effective communication in BPM projects is in the communication of value. On the one hand, the BPM leaders need to motivate the entire BPM team and to ensure that the team remains committed to the process. One of the most effective ways of doing this is by ensuring that the people involved know the value of their contribution to the process. This can only happen if there is effective communication. Secondly, the management of the organizations will need a basis for making decisions regarding the BPM process. The management can do this by calculating earned-value from the process. In this regard, effective communication of the activities and achievements of the process is important.
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